Find a lawyer to help you answer your legal questions.

  • My Legal Briefcase

    Massive Changes Lie Ahead
    Posted: 2011-07-22 05:48:13

    Möbius transformationWe are on the cusp of massive change in the legal industry. Some of you already feel it, but others will be caught completely by surprise.

    In 1997, when I first heard of Amazon, I never thought it would be the death of large bookstores in the US. Many of the retailers and publishers didn’t see it coming either. Eventually, bookstores were unable to compete with the savings offered through Amazon. In a span of less than 15 years, we saw how quickly and easily it was to change an entire industry.

    The disruptive nature of technology can also be seen in newsprint, music, and now television. Traditional press newspapers are struggling to compete with blogs, free papers, and online magazines that offer the same, or better, coverage for almost nothing. And I don’t need to mention the massive impact Napster had on the music industry.

    But what about the practice of law?

    What impact is technology having on the law profession, if any?

    Here is how I see it.

    Beyond the obvious ways of using technology to automate and make the provision of services more cost effective, technology will impact law in another way. Clients will demand more cost effective pricing.
    There are two clear reasons for this. First, obviously, is that they want to pay less. But second, and more importantly, technology disruptions have changed the status quo. People have come to expect more, way more, for less cost. Just consider your smartphone. Google and iPhone apps, YouTube, Skype – all fantastic tools, and they are available at almost no cost compared to the value.

    The promise of technology is realized in so many ways, and people no longer look at a technological innovation as novel; they have come to expect it. This is no less true than with the legal services industry.

    Technology is ingrained in our psyche. We are no longer willing to accept the legal norms. People will demand more cost effective ways of doing things and will assume that law firms have already embraced technology. And the corollary – they will expect more for less, they will expect that prices will come down over time due to competition, and they will expect a better quality service as the norm.

    So watch out legal firms. If you think you are under pressure now to change the way you operate, just wait and see what happens next.

    And it won’t take 15 years for this change to happen.

    Photo credit: Flickr - fdecomite

    Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal advice.